Summer holidays can be time when some families and young people need most support - Paul Carberry

The summer holidays can be a joyous time for many children but for the most vulnerable the end of the school term sees them lose an important support structure in their lives.

The hiatus of the nurturing environment that schools provide can leave a void in the lives of those children who need it most but Action for Children’s Family Support and Short Break services are always there to provide support throughout the entire year.

Many of us will associate summer with feelings of happiness as children and families look forward to warmer weather and the opportunity to enjoy adventures together. Unfortunately, families struggling to get by during this period of time can be left particularly vulnerable as the safety net of schools, teachers and the associated support structures are not there.

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It is at this time that family support and short break services are needed more than ever however, we know that demand for these services can outstrip supply. Action for Children has been at the forefront of campaigning government to invest more in this area and we welcomed the Scottish government’s announcement that they will be committing £4m per year to The Promise Partnership Fund and investing at least £500m over the course of this Parliamentary term on a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund.

Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director.

We believe this funding commitment can help us deliver more supply of family support and short break services to assist meeting the growing demand requested by Scotland’s children and their families.

Action for Children’s Family Support and short breaks services are a core component of our DNA and the majority of our 87 services across Scotland are heavily invested in this area. Family support is the living embodiment of preventative spend as it offers families support when an issue first emerges, ensuring the problem does not escalate because of delay.

We know that every family is different and there is no one size fits all approach to providing help for the families and young people who need it. Our holistic approach covers a broad spectrum of support to reflect these differences and in doing this we are able to build a family’s resilience to the challenges they may face with tools and strategies to assist them in their efforts to create a safe and loving environment.

One example of this is our Stoneside Family Support Service in the South of Glasgow which works with around 50 families each year. The services offer family support, short breaks and residential care for children and young people with a whole range of needs who require long-term support and accommodation.

The nurturing environment within schools is missed during the holidays but our staff work to ensure children are not losing the structure and support they need during this time. As well as offering a safe space and meals, they work to guide them in building their resilience and develop helpful coping strategies. During this time we also provide support to maintain family relationships during the extra hours they are together with schools closed.

For families needing support with young people who may have a range of physical disabilities, learning difficulties and complex health needs we have many services like our Lisalanna Short Breaks and Residential Services in East Ayrshire.

The focus on creating a home away from home environment is all the more poignant during the school holidays as families require additional support during what is normally school hours. Here the young people can go out on group or one-to-one outings and activities. They have the opportunity to socialise with other young people and are able to develop independence in their lives going forward.

I am immensely proud of the work our staff do during periods like the school holidays and our Care Inspectorate reports for these services reflect the passion, commitment and planning we put into supporting children, families and young people. The summer may be more of a struggle for some this year but Action for Children has a long and successful history of investing in and delivering excellent family support services which I know will always be there for families in their time of need.

Paul Carberry, Action for Children National Director for Scotland and England

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